Small molecules are being developed for cardiovascular and pulmonary indications.

Arginetix closed a $10.75 million Series A financing. The company is developing small molecule inhibitors of arginase for endothelial dysfunction including pulmonary arterial hypertension, atherosclerosis, and asthma.

Arginetix will use the money to further discovery activities as well as pursue development of its arginase inhibitors for cardiovascular and pulmonary indications. The company’s scientific foundation is based on licensed intellectual property from its scientific co-founders David Christianson, Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dan Berkowitz, M.D., at Johns Hopkins University.

Arginase is an enzyme that competes with endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) for the use of the common substrate L-arginine. Elevated arginase limits L-arginine available for eNOS, resulting in both a reduction in nitric oxide (NO) production (reducing signaling critical for normal function) as well as eNOS uncoupling, leading to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Further, arginase also leads to the production of ornithine, which increases polyamine, stimulating cell division and contributing to hyperplasia and fibrosis. Together the decrease in NO, the increase in ROS and the increase in ornithine are major causes of endothelial dysfunction.

The financing was co-led by Quaker BioVentures and MedImmune Ventures, a wholly owned venture capital fund of the AstraZeneca Group. Maryland Health Care Product Development, Osage University Partners, Red Abbey Venture Partners, and company co-founder Acidophil also participated in the round.

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